Doctor: Iraqi General Defense Strategy Renders Muth Incompetent
Final witness testified Tuesday in seventh day of Albrecht Muth competency hearing.
Georgetown murder suspect Albrecht Muth's continued insistence on a defense strategy that hinges on the assertion he is an Iraqi General renders him incompetent to stand trial, a defense witness said Tuesday, the seventh day of Muth's competency hearing
Dr. Stephen Lally, a psychologist, said Tuesday in DC Superior Court he believes Muth's consistent self-portrayal as an Iraqi General and his refusal to consider alternative defense options proposed by his public defenders, mean he cannot stand trial. An ability to work with counsel is one of the core elements in a finding of competency, he said.
Judge Russel F. Canan will hear a re-direct of Lally by the public defender Laura Rose as well as arguments by both the prosecution and the defense Wednesday. Canan expects to issue the court's opinion Thursday on Muth's ability to stand trial for the murder of his late wife Viola Drath.
Patch has created a page specifically about the competency hearing here.
In defending his assertion that Muth is delusional, Lally said other experts and the prosecution have looked at Muth's behavior of creating "personas" and his history of manipulating people and concluded he is lying, rather than delusional -- but "one can be a liar and a manipulator and someone with a delusional disorder," all at once, he said.
Muth's belief he is an Iraqi General and that his wife's death was an Iranian hit gone wrong are resistant to change, Lally said. Even when challenged with evidence like a "cease and desist" email from the Iraqi Embassy, Muth sticks to the story, Lally said.
Additionally the "bulk" of the testing performed by doctors for both sides "consistently supports" the finding Muth is delusional, Lally said. And to the extent his delusion interferes with his ability to consult his counsel, Muth is not capable of standing trial, argued Lally.
Delusions or Manipulations?
At one point Canan asked Lally about previous assertions by Muth he is an East German spy; Assistant United States Attorney Glen Kirschner later asked the same.
"My best guess is the East German Intelligence Officer is also a delusion," Lally said.
Kirschner took issue with Lally accepting those two entities (the general and the spy) are delusions, but other personas Muth has adopted are not.
Lally said he did not have enough information about the various personalities Drath's family claimed Muth adopted during the time they knew him.
Generally, though, Lally said because Muth was willing to move on from those beliefs they were "manipulations" or "enterprises" rather than delusions. It is the way he holds fast to the spy and the general even when challenged that in part makes them delusions, he explained.
Kirschner also questioned Lally's assertion Muth would only consider the Iraqi General defense.
During interviews with the police after his arrest and with expert doctors, Muth has discussed problems with the evidence, like a lack of DNA and a discrepancy in the time of death, among others, Kirschner said.
"He's considering the weaknesses. It sounds like he is considering the evidence and exploring how to exploit them," Kirschner said.
"I don't think he's legitimately considering them," Lally said.
Additionally, Muth has discussed issuing a subpoena for General David Petraeus to testify about his status as an Iraqi General. Muth's discussion around his desire to do so shows he is strategizing and even plotting to "put the criminal justice system on trial," Kirschner said. All of which, he argued, suggest a degree of competency to at least assist his attorneys.
On Wednesday, the defense will re-direct their witness and then the two sides will offer final arguments for the judge to consider.
Related Content on the Muth Competency Hearing:
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